The Drax Files Radio Hour: after Humble

radio-hourThe fourth show in this engaging series kicks-off with Rod Humble’s departure, as broken original by Jo Yardley herself (kudos, Jo!), and with interesting insight from Dean Takahashi on what might have happened – primarily focusing on the attempts to diversify, some of which as I’ve commented myself, don’t appear to have come out too well.

There has been a lot of speculation over the reason for Rod Humble’s departure. Many have pointed to it being a case that he “failed”, with the intimation that he was fired.

Jo thinks the decision to leave was his – and I agree with her. As she says, and I’ve alluded to, the Lab’s reaction suggests the move caught them off-guard (or as I have referred to it, they were caught with their knickers around their ankles); they simply didn’t see it coming.

Will Wright (image courtesy of Gamesbeat)
Will Wright (image courtesy of Gamesbeat)

The show also touches on Will Wright’s departure from the LL board, which was likely first noted by Ezra (at least in this context) in an NWN comment as the news about Humble’s departure spread.

In September 2013, news broke that Wright had, together with Avi Bar-Zeev, raised some $5 million to establish Syntertainment, a company which is “dedicated to changing the world through uniquely fun and lasting user experiences” and which will ” focus on the intersection of entertainment and reality. ”

Whether Wright’s departure from the Lab occurred at the time Syntertainment was launched (which would seem likely) or some time between that event and Humble’s departure is unclear. It does, however, lead to speculation in the show that it may be where Rod Humble may be heading. This doesn’t quite seem to gell with his own comments on his future, of which he says, “I am starting-up a company to make Art, Entertainment and unusual things,” suggesting he is creating a company, rather than joining a start-up. But, time will tell; and it may be unwise to discount his bond with Will Wright.

There is a lot of good input on the subject from a number of interviewees, and kudos to Harvey Crabsticks in particular for his comments on market segments, potential reach and on the future – and Rod Humble’s tenure. Well said on all! On a broader scale, Hanno Teitgens offers up insight as to why Second Life and virtual worlds remain hamstrung – although his view on the direction the company should take may upset some, and I’m not sure I agree with his summation of OpenSim, which shares all of the problems inherent with Second Life in terms of growing an audience, which the lower cost of land has failed to demonstrate itself as a deciding factor.

Perhaps the most fascinating interview is with Evonne Heyning and Joyce Bettencourt, who chart the evolution of the Lab and its outlook from the perspective of those who actually dealt directly with the Lab’s management on a professional level.

Beyond Rod Humble’s departure from the Lab, the show touches upon a range of topics, including the buy-out of Cloud Party and where it might lead. This was also touched upon within the interview with Hanno Teitgens, with he and Drax having an interesting exchange of views on the oft-pointed to subject of virtual worlds “needing” to be browser-based for access. 

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The Drax Files Radio Hour undoubtedly hits a strong stride with this podcast. It provides a good summation of Rod Humble’s tenure from all sides, and an excellent piece with Evonne and Joyce which really puts the evolution of Linden Lab in a perspective many may not have considered.  The depth of the central subject is plumbed to great effect, and the mix of interviews and comments presented a strong narrative of their own which gives the show considerable flow – and considerable food for thought.